fire - David Bachar - December 9 2010
Firemen battling the blaze in Carmel Fire. Photo by David Bachar
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to present the government with a bill next Sunday meant to strengthen Israel's emergency services in case of fires or earthquakes, allocating NIS 800 million for emergency preparedness.

Prime Minister's Bureau Director-General Eyal Gabai met with the director-generals of other relevant government ministries on Sunday evening and presented them with the bill, which will allocate NIS 350 million for various civil defense operations, another NIS 350 million for the fire services, and an extra NIS 100 million for emergencies.

The NIS 350 million for civil defense will be used to build emergency centers in the local authorities, to establish a joint communications system for all of Israel's emergency bodies, to purchase equipment that would enable the evacuation of 400 thousand citizens in case of emergency, and for earthquake preparedness.

The NIS 350 million allocated to Israel's Fire and Rescue Services is the same budget that has been previously brought forth to strengthen the fire services and to obtain firefighting aircraft from neighboring countries.

The bill also includes a couple of reforms regarding Israel's current emergency services. The first will be transferring the responsibility over Israel's fire services from the Interior Ministry and the local authorities to the care of the Public Security Ministry. Moreover, the responsibility over earthquake preparedness will be transferred from a small unit in the infrastructure ministry to the national emergency authority in the Defense Ministry.